Bre­gozzo

Old Bike Australasia - - OUT’N’ABOUT - PETER SHAN­NON has un­earthed a fas­ci­nat­ing se­quel to a story in OBA 53. Bril­liant work Peter. Truly an amaz­ing story and a piece of lo­cal Du­cati his­tory. – ED

I no­ticed your story in OBA53, on ‘Rene Pre­gasso’, Aus­tralia’s first (?) Du­cati agent, which was re­called by Chris Avakian, af­ter a chance meet­ing with 72 year old ‘Fred’ at a garage in 2012. The his­tory of Du­cati’s Cuc­ci­olo en­gine sales in Syd­ney has in­trigued me since see­ing the first ad­ver­tise­ments for them be­ing sold through Nock & Kirby’s in Ge­orge Street, Syd­ney. This was be­cause Lam­bretta scoot­ers were also be­ing sold at N&K around the same time and I had won­dered if there may have been a con­nec­tion with Sam Jamieson, the first im­porter of Lam­bretta and Vespa scoot­ers into Aus­tralia in 1949. I have had the op­por­tu­nity to fur­ther re­search Chris Avakian’s rec­ol­lec­tion of Fred’s story and can con­firm the truth of that part of Du­cati’s his­tory and can now clar­ify fur­ther de­tails.

Aus­tralia’s first Du­cati im­porter was in­deed Rene, but his cor­rect name is ac­tu­ally Rene Sil­vio Joseph Bre­gozzo. He was born in 1907 at St. Croix, Switzer­land to Ital­ian par­ents. He was a master vi­o­lin­ist and taught mu­sic later in life. He be­gan play­ing the vi­olin at age 4 and also played the pi­ano and vi­ola. He played his first pub­lic recital at age 7. By Novem­ber 1928, at the age of 21, he had trav­elled to Aus­tralia and was in Mel­bourne per­form­ing with his vi­olin in mu­si­cal recitals and per­formed in the ‘Sis­ser­man Trio’ and be­came the di­rec­tor of ‘The Con­ti­nen­tal String Orches­tra’ per­form­ing at var­i­ous the­atres, and by 1932 was teach­ing vi­olin at ‘The New Con­ser­va­to­rium’ in Mel­bourne and was known as Pro­fes­sor Bre­gozzo. At some stage whilst in Mel­bourne he meet Nancy Isabel Mil­burn who af­ter work­ing for the Keilor Shire Coun­cil for 10 years left in 1938 for Italy where she mar­ried Rene in Au­gust of that year. They re­mained over­seas un­til re­turn­ing to Aus­tralia from Italy in Oc­to­ber 1948. This cer­tainly fits in with the rec­ol­lec­tion of ‘Fred’. It must have been in the pe­riod, 1933 to 1948 that Rene first took up work­ing for Du­cati. Fred’s story in­volves Nancy’s sis­ter, who is ac­tu­ally Fred’s mother, Marie Ec­cel­ston Mil­burn who in 1934 mar­ried Leonard Smethurst Crowle in Vic­to­ria. Some­time af­ter 1938 the Crowle fam­ily moved to Syd­ney where it is be­lieved Leonard (Fred’s fa­ther), worked for ‘A.H. Hasell & Co.”, a firm in­volved in tim­ber whole­sale and at some stage Mr Arthur Hasell had been in­volved in im­port­ing phos­phates and min­ing. In fact, Mr Hasell was a di­rec­tor of ‘The Farm­ers Fer­tiliser Cor­po­ra­tion’. Both Hasell & Co, and the Farm­ers Fer­tiliser Co. op­er­ated from 251 Ge­orge St., the same build­ing as I.C.I., a large chem­i­cal con­cern. At the end of Oc­to­ber 1948 Rene and his fam­ily re­turned to Syd­ney from Italy and fol­low­ing on from Fred’s de­tails it ap­pears Rene was out to sell Du­cati prod­ucts, namely their ra­dio sets and cam­eras and the new pro­duc­tion of Cuc­ci­olo mo­tors. In this re­spect Rene es­tab­lished his own com­pany, “R.J. Breg & Co., which in­deed did op­er­ate out of 251 Ge­orge St Syd­ney, as re­called by Fred. Given the tute­lage by Leonard Crowle as men­tioned by Fred, it ap­pears Rene went about es­tab­lish­ing sales in­ter­state in the 1949/50 pe­riod. To this ex­tent Rene rode a Cuc­ci­olo, 631 miles from Syd­ney to Mel­bourne on 2 ¾ gal­lons of petrol in 26 hours to pub­li­cise the abil­i­ties of the Cuc­c­ci­olo in May 1950. The first ar­rival of Du­cati Cuc­ci­olo mo­tors may well have been on the ‘Ugilino Vi­valdi’ on 28 Fe­bru­ary 1949 when 2 crates of “aux­il­iary en­gines” ar­rived into Syd­ney Port from Italy. Although no con­nec­tion has been found be­tween Lam­bretta and Vespa’s first im­porter, Sam Jamieson, it is cer­tainly an amaz­ing co­in­ci­dence that Lam­bretta scoot­ers and Cuc­ci­olo mo­tors started be­ing sold through Nock and Kirby’s within days of each other in Au­gust 1949; and Vespa scoot­ers and Cuc­ci­olo mo­tors be­ing sold in Western Aus­tralia through W. J. Lu­cas Ltd. within days of each other in Oc­to­ber 1949. It is also of in­ter­est with ‘A.H. Hasell & Co.” and Leonard Crowle be­ing in­volved in the whole­sale tim­ber trade and Sam Jamieson along with his brother, John Jamieson, at the time, be­ing ac­tive in the tim­ber busi­ness in Syd­ney. The Jamieson broth­ers were also ac­tive in im­port­ing goods from over­seas and, in fact, they had em­ployed, Lionel Van Praag, the World’s first speed­way Cham­pion, as a pi­lot and leased his plane to fly Ital­ian im­mi­grants and goods, and no doubt, the first Vespa to ar­rive in Aus­tralia from Rome; cer­tainly a se­ries of re­lated events that does not rule out a con­nec­tion be­tween Bre­gozzo and Jamieson. By 1952 Fred’s fa­ther, Leonard Crowle, had passed away so Rene’s tute­lage came to an end. At some stage Rene ac­tu­ally worked at Nock & Kirby’s as this is men­tioned in the US pa­per “Or­ange County Reg­is­ter” in 2008 on the oc­ca­sion of Rene’s 100th birth­day: It is stated in that ar­ti­cle that: “Rene Bre­gozzo and his wife, Nancy, moved their fam­ily from Aus­tralia to the United States in 1961. The fam­ily lived in New­port Beach, then Costa Mesa, and fi­nally set­tled in Irvine. Once in Or­ange County, he be­gan teach­ing mu­sic and worked at a small busi­ness started by one of the Du­cati broth­ers (Adri­ano Du­cati).” Rene Bre­gozzo died in 2009 aged 101 at Irvine Cal­i­for­nia. His Obit­u­ary can be read at: http://obits.ocre­g­is­ter.com/obit­u­ar­ies/or­ange­county/ obit­u­ary.aspx?n=re­nea­cute-joseph­bre­gozzo&pid=117102001 He has two grand­chil­dren liv­ing in Syd­ney with the Bre­gozzo sur­name. So in 2012, Chris Avakian was talk­ing to Fred: a.k.a. Fred­er­ick John Crowle, whom I be­lieve is still with us. I hope that the above facts add to the knowl­edge of Du­cati’s beginnings in Aus­tralia.

... Rene rode a Cuc­ci­olo, 631 miles from Syd­ney to Mel­bourne on 2 ¾ gal­lons of petrol in 26 hours... in May 1950.

Rene Bre­gozzo on his 100th birth­day.

he me­mo­rial to Rene Bre­gozzo at North Syd­ney.

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